Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas Adventure

December 30, 2014

Twas the day before Christmas and all around Portsmouth town
The skies were gray, rain was pouring down
The apartment was quiet, no pipe bells for grandkids to play
But no matter, it would soon be Christmas Day!

Christmas morning was very quiet in Virginia......just Elder Ashton and I opening our gifts.....that we had saved to open that day.

Only a small pile of wrapping paper to clean up :)

We received lots of great presents......each of us received a GIANT heating pad - the size of a blanket so we can snuggle under that when we are COLD.   I was tempted to take mine to the office today because I was freezing all day even though I had on a heavy skirt and had layered two sweaters.  BRRRRRRR!!!!!!

In addition to the blanket sized heating pads we received books, calendars, chocolates, fuzz shavers, ear rings, neck and shoulder wrap, spices, hot chocolate and crampons so we won't fall down on the ice ;-)   

Elder Ashton has already put one of his gifts to good use....he has come down with the flu so we came home from the office a little early this afternoon and he took a nap snuggled up under the warm blanket on the couch.   I offered to make a mustard plaster for him (only those of you close to my age will remember that was a common home remedy used by our mothers when we had a bad cough) but he declined.   He did agree to let me make him some nice hot home-made vegetable soup and said the warmth made him feel better.

By 10 a.m. on Christmas morning we had cleaned up most of our Christmas celebration, packed our carry-on bags and headed to the airport to fly to Arizona for a few days to attend our granddaughter's wedding in the Snowflake LDS Temple.

In honor of my exciting Red Bag adventure of last week, I decided I would take only 2 red bags to Arizona with me.   I thought it would be rather easy for me to keep track of those red bags and also expected that the airports would be deserted on Christmas Day.

We flew out of the small International Airport in Newport News (only 7 gates) with a layover in Charlotte, NC before flying on to Phoenix.   I was pleased to see that my prediction of mostly deserted airports was true when we got to Newport News.   When we boarded the plane it was raining and that made me anxious to get to sunny Arizona even though the forecast indicated it would be COLD in Snowflake on the day of the wedding.

We flew on a small plane (only held 50 passengers and every seat was full).   We had picked our seats but some of the travelers decided they could sit just anywhere and since we were in the last boarding group, we had to sit wherever there was an open seat.   Elder Ashton ended up sitting in the very front seat next to a young mother with a toddler - the last seat available on the plane.   As I saw where he was sitting, the thought crossed my mind that he might not have a very pleasant flight if he was sitting next to a fussy child.   I was tired so I promptly fell asleep for about 30 minutes and when I woke up I noticed that Elder Ashton was engaged in a conversation with the young mother and I didn't hear any crying coming from the toddler.   As we landed and disembarked the plane, Elder Ashton had a grin on his face and said he spent the whole flight talking with the young mother about the church.....she had a friend who was a Mormon and said she would be willing to have the missionaries come by her house in Newport News to bring her a copy of the Book of Mormon and talk with her when she returns from visiting her family in Texas.   Elder Ashton was so excited to share the gospel message with someone else......I know this adventure we are on brings back memories of his mission to Mexico over 50 years ago.

When we landed in Charlotte, there was no walkway into the terminal.   We had to climb down some wiggly steps and walk across the tarmac to enter the terminal.   And what a sight greeted us!  People, people and more people - everywhere.    We had a 3.5 hour layover there and it was a good thing because the airport was HUGE and we landed at the far end of concourse E and our flight was supposed to leave from concourse D (it took us almost 10 minutes to walk over there carrying all our bags and our coats).   We sat and waited and watched people for awhile, then the announcement came that our departure gate was now in concourse B - so we started walking again.   Interestingly, at least half of the moving walkways in the airport were out of order so I got some good exercise in on Christmas Day :)

The gate areas were crowded with lots of people!

We even saw Santa scurrying through the airport with 'her' bag thrown over her shoulder ;-D

The main area of the airport where the concourses all came together had lots of Christmas decorations, including this beautiful tree of red and white poinsettias and Santa flying in a small bi-plane.   The area also was a mall with many chain stores there and rocking chairs along the side of the walkway so people could shop, rock, eat.....whatever they wanted to do.

We left Charlotte about 6 p.m. Eastern Time and arrived in Arizona about 9 p.m. Mountain Time.   Felicia, Dallon and Addie picked us up and some of the best parts of my Christmas Adventure began as I got to hug all of them tightly.

They took us "home" and I must say it felt a bit strange to be there......it seemed like my voice echoed because my 1900 square foot home was so much more spacious than my 900 square foot apartment.   It was good to sleep in my own bed, but when I woke up in the night to go to the restroom I nearly panicked because I couldn't remember where I was and the bathroom door was not right next to my bed :)

Mid-morning on Friday we got into our GMC Terrain and headed up the hill to St. Johns.   When I first tried to drive the Terrain, it felt really strange because the steering wheel grip has a larger diameter then the steering wheel grip in the pickup that we have back here in Virginia.   I found it interesting to realize how quickly even a "well-seasoned" human like me can become accustomed to their current situation. And on the drive I noticed the most beautiful thing------blue sky!

Elder Ashton laughed at me when I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the blue sky....but I thought I needed a picture to remind me of the clear blue sky while we go through the gray and rainy weather back here in Virginia :)

When we arrived in the Snowflake/St.Johns area it was COLD!!!!! about 30 degrees.   As soon as we got to that area of the state I started cashing in on the hugs again.......oh how I love those hugs from kids and grandkids!

Wedding was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday morning so we headed to Snowflake bright and early.  I loved this beautiful white marble nativity that was sitting outside the doors of the temple.

The wedding was beautiful!!!! And it was so great to be together with family members for the entire day on Saturday.

Big brother, little sister and Grandma waiting for the bride and groom to come out of the temple.   Notice that big brother is holding the bride's bouquet, and it looks like little sister is telling him what he is supposed to be doing :)

Here they are - the newlyweds :)

Most of the family and friends outside the temple.   We are all FREEZING - it was 23 degrees!  Looks like the groom's mom is snuggling up to him trying to get warm :)

We had a lovely lunch and open house in Snowflake - adults and kids enjoyed hanging out with each other.   Griffen was especially excited when he saw that Colby and Miranda's boys were there.....he had been hanging out with me but as soon as those boys showed up, I was yesterday's news.

Grady, Griffen, and Duncan.   I must say these are 3 of the most handsome boys I have ever seen :)

A second reception was held in St. Johns.    It was wonderful and the decorations were beautiful.  My granddaughter, Brynna, from Colorado commented that the decorations looked like a Pinterest explosion.......I thought that was an apt description:)

Some of the Colorado Ashtons - mother, Meri; big sister, Brynna; big brother, Joel; and freshman, Josh - bride and groom with backdrop in the background.

Some of my family members hanging out together at the SJ reception - note trees, pictures, lights, etc. in background.   Lori, Kodi, Quinn, Levi, Dallon and Felicia - looks like they have all been enhjoying the hot chocolate stand :)

Grandma and Grandpa - aka Elder and Sister- Ashton with the Colorado Ashton family standing in front of the hot chocolate stand

Three views of the awesome cake and more of the decorations.    The cake matched Sydney's bouquet that was white roses, white carnations, pine cones, and pine boughs really well!

Words don't adequately express how wonderful Saturday was......all of my children and their spouses were together and about half the grandchildren were there.   My heart was full as I looked at them and thought about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family.   Before booking the plane tickets to fly back to Arizona for the wedding, I was a little concerned that it would be too difficult to leave everyone for a second time and although it was hard to say good-bye, I felt calm in knowing that Elder Ashton and I are here in Virginia at this time because it is where we are supposed to be and I can see that great blessings are coming to our family even though we are far away.   

With a tired body I went to bed Saturday night knowing that at least 12 hours of travel would take up the day on Sunday.  We drove back down to Phoenix from St. Johns, picked a little fresh citrus to bring back to Virginia with us, and boarded the plane for Charlotte at 4:20 on Sunday afternoon.   Once again, Elder Ashton and I didn't have seats together, but this time it was my turn to meet some wonderful new people.   I sat between a young military man who was traveling back to Fort Bragg after visiting his mother in Phoenix for Christmas.   He was very cordial and had the nicest smile that just lit up his face.   I talked with him quite a bit about why we are here in Virginia and thanked him for his willingness to serve.   It was a pleasure to sit by him and I could tell he had been raised right - he kept calling me ma'am, "yes, ma'am", "no, ma'am", "I plan to use the GI benefits to get my education, ma'am".   A great experience for me!   My other seat mate was a woman who has recently moved from Michigan to a small area just outside Charlotte, NC.   She told me that she drove sporrts cars in races for 24 years - and I was SHOCKED!!!!   She looked like a nice little grandma like me:) We landed in Charlotte and trecked to the other side of the airport, only to find out that our plane was going to be delayed so we got back to our apartment at approximately 3 a.m. on Monday morning and were at the office by 8:15 a.m. to get ready for departing missionaries this week and next and new missionaries arriving to replace them next week.

And guess what kind of weather greeted us when we woke up on Monday morning :/   Oh, well, I've decided that the gray skies and rain will really make me appreciate the Arizona weather by the time I get back there!

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.....but how did it get to be 2015 already?!?!


  1. All that travel talk makes me tired. :-) but I really relate to fact that no effort is too much when the end result is being with your family. You both look so good!

  2. I didn't recognize any of your family. They all grew up. Glad you had a good time